Category Archives: Healthy Tummy Initiative

Drink Me! Keeping yourself hydrated is a must

Sugary Drinks Linked to Over 180,000 Deaths Worldwide

fructose overload infographic

Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic “Fructose Overload.” Use the embed code to share it on your website.

fructose overload infographic

Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic “Fructose Overload.”


WITS meets the Healthy Tummy Initiative

Wellness in the Schools meets Dr. Laurie at PS53 in the Bronx

Today we whipped up a storm with our first cooking class of the year, featuring Dr. Laurie of the Healthy Tummy Initiative and WITS chef extraordinaire, Kristin.

The kids quickly rushed in and I gathered their attention by starting with a few basic concepts including MyPlate, 5 A Day and Eating the colors of the rainbow at each meal. Their challenge was to create their own version of MyPlate using the recipes and ingredients we provided for them. Reward? Each student got to savor the flavors at the end of the class and take the time to EAT!

This cooking class was hosted by of the most wonderfully dedicated teachers that I know, who graciously started off her morning by picking Kristin and I up from the local grocery store to help transport the freshly purchased groceries needed for today’s heart-healthy lesson. Without the help of Kristin and Ms. Okpalanma, none of this would have been possible — from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

Ingredients for MyPlate Recipes

Our Healthy Tummy Shopping list:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 pounds of Chicken breasts, precut into strips
  • Pecans, ½ cup raw
  • Almonds, ½ cup raw
  • Large eggs, 2
  • Spinach, 3 bags (organic if possible)
  • Garlic, 3 cloves
  • Sweet potatoes, 6 large (preheat large pot with water to boil potatoes)
  • Organic unsalted butter, 1-2 tablespoon
  • Maple syrup, 1-2 teaspoon
  • Sea salt
  • Dried herbs & spices: fresh parsley; dried: cinnamon, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried thyme
  • Small container of plain yogurt
  • Honey, 2 tablespoon
  • Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoon

This classroom of 30-something 5th graders was stuffed to the brim with some of the brightest students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching, as they were attentive (for the most part!), super engaged in our conversation and had so much to say about health, cooking and nutrition. This is what I call an ‘enlightened’ group. They get it. With kids, as soon as you turn on the light switch, it says ON, and usually for good.

Here are a few pics we captured during the day — we wish we got more but our hands were tied up cooking with the kids!

Kids love to blend, mix and DIP!

Here is one of the teams whipping up our healthy version of Honey Mustard sauce to dip our Crunchy Chicken Tenders into. Here is the recipe:

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce                                                                           

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Pinch salt

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Yield: approximately 1 cup. Huge hit with the kids. Here is our lovely teacher evenly distributing the sauce into individual cups for hygiene, of course!

Ms. Okpalanma ROCKS!

 Sharing = caring –> Check out the girls helping each other coat the Chicken Tenders.

Chicken Tender Dipping Station








Here’s our kid-friendly recipe:

Pecan & Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders                                                  


  • 1 cup pecan pieces/almond pieces finely ground
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips
  • Chopped parsley, garnish


  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pecan & almond pieces and spices. Pulse for 1 minute to combine. Pour into a shallow dish. In another bowl, beat together the eggs & olive oil.
  • One at a time, dip chicken into the egg mixture then dredge in the pecan mixture. Shake to remove any excess.
  • Heat a medium sized skillet on medium heat, then add a few tablespoons of coconut or olive oil.
  • Transfer breaded chicken to the preheated pan, turning once, when the chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden, 6 to 9 minutes on each side.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to plates. Garnish with parsley and serve with Honey Mustard Dipping sauce on the side.

Kids Love Getting their Hands Dirty









Check out the students getting busy in our makeshift kitchen, aka classroom!

Beautifully Breaded Tenders: Almonds!


















Um, can you say DELISH?! Students were licking their plates clean and loved the ‘crumbs’ from our recipe.

Electric outlets were hard to come by in the classroom, so we had the spinach cooking in one corner. Here is our recipe:

Groovy Garlic Spinach


  • 3 bags of organic spinach leaves, prewashed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Coconut or olive oil to cook with


  • Heat a medium sized skillet on medium heat, then add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • When coconut oil is melted, add chopped garlic and sauté until golden brown to infuse the oil with garlic flavor.
  • Add in the green spinach and continue to mix until leaves soften and wilt in with the garlic and oil mixture.
  • Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.
  • Watch as the leaves dehydrate and shrink down to ¼ of their original size!
  • Serve immediately.

Honey Mustard Dip Creators!








Once everything was completed, the teachers and I created mini versions of MyPlate for each student to taste. A dollop of maple sweet potato, garlic spinach and parsley crusted chicken tender along with sauce went onto each plate, providing half colorful vegetables, and the other half protein covered with whole grain.

MyPlate: Perfectly Balanced

Here is our recipe for our beta-carotene rich dish:

Sweet, Sweet Potato Mash


  • 6-8 large sweet potatoes, washed, boiled and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons of organic unsalted butter
  • Pure Maple syrup, 1-2 teaspoons to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt to taste
  • Cinnamon


  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil with the washed sweet potatoes in the water.
  • On a low boil, cook the potatoes until soft enough that it is easy to pierce the potato skin with a fork, usually 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove potatoes from the water and let them cool before removing the skin.
  • Mash the softened potatoes with a fork or hand blender until creamy.
  • Mix in 1-2 tablespoons of butter as it melts into the warmed potatoes.
  • Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt for added flavor.
  • Optional: Add 1-2 teaspoons of pure maple syrup for a touch of sweetness!

Sweet Potato Mashing TEAM

This team was SO proud of their dish!

A close-up of the goodness…. Savory, sweet & warm all at once!

Who Wants SECONDS?!



















I truly hope that I get invited back and cook up another tasty, balanced meal with these wonderful kids… I am so grateful for this hilarious day (you gotta work on the fly since things NEVER go as you plan them to!).

Class Poster featured outside of Ms. Okpalanma’s classroom

Dr. Laurie loves the Classroom Kitchen!

Healthy Tummy in the NEWS!

Natural Health Magazine online has featured the Healthy Tummy Initiative. Check out the article HERE.

We are so honored to have our generous supporters on board. THANK YOU!


Kids love LaraBars!







Little Duck Organics

Fearless Chocolate

Purely Elizabeth

Agata & Valentina



Making a little go a long way.. Fresh produce!

Heart Healthy Cooking in the Classroom

Today the kids were taught about ways to keep their bodies healthy as they cooked up a warm, heart-healthy lunch packed with fresh ingredients and the perfect balance of fruits and vegetables that covered their plate in colors of the rainbow.




Trader Joe’s shopping list: organic quinoa, coconut oil, olive oil, cage-free eggs, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken tenders, organic unsalted butter, maple syrup, sweet potatoes, seasonings, garlic, sea salt and spinach.

Making a little go a long way.. Fresh produce!








Using the MyPlate recommendations, we used whole grains to cover our organic chicken tenders, organic spinach and garlic for our green colored sautee, and orange sweet potato mash with organic butter and cinnamon. With teamwork and an awesome support staff, the kids of our health class whipped this heart-savvy meal together in less than 1 hour!

Browning our quinoa coated chicken tenders

Take Home Messages:

5 A Day Rule: Aim for at least 5 fruits and veggies each day.

Eat the Rainbow: Pack your plate with colorful produce, including iron-rich foods like spinach, heart-healthy foods like garlic, and beta-carotene rich foods like sweet potato

Make your grains whole: Quinoa was the perfect protein-rich grain that we coated our chicken tenders with to make them extra crunchy and filling to feed the brain and boost energy for learning in the classroom





No oven? No problem! Cooking in heart-healthy coconut oil

We used a little burner to heat up some coconut oil in which we browned our chicken tenders, that the kids first dipped into beaten eggs, and seasoned quinoa flakes — kids used spices like cumin, oregano, garlic powder, pepper, sea salt to flavor the crust.






Almost time to eat! The sweet potatoes were boiled, mashed and the students added organic butter, sea salt, some aromatic cinnamon and a dash of maple syrup for the perfect sweetness.

Putting the perfect bite-size portion to mimic MyPlate

The students smashed 4 garlic cloves and sauteed them in olive oil on low heat until brown. Then they gently added spinach leaves and cooked them down until wilted and soft and infused with garlic. For added flavor, they added a pinch of sea salt and poured out the extra oil, then served.





Each student was given a drawing of an empty plate onto which they had to include their meal and demonstrate that half was fresh produce including green spinach and orange sweet potato, while the remaining area was perfect for whole-grain quinoa coated chicken tenders. They will get these recipes to take home and recreate with their parents as well!

MyPlate: Whole grains, protein and half colorful veggies!

The kids licked their plates clean as they headed off to their next class asking, ‘What will we be cooking next time?!’. What a powerful day.







Next class, I’m thinking something sweet and delicious; perhaps a fruit based snack?!

sprouted garbanzo beans

Shouting for Sprouting!

Cleaning up the seedlings







NEVER SPROUTED BEFORE?! No worries! This blog will demonstrate just how easy it is to get sprouting, whether it be in your own kitchen at home or in the classroom as a fun and tasty science experiment.

Start by washing your seedlings and soak them overnight in some water. Then place each into it’s own glass mason jar, seal with cheese-cloth and a rubber band so that the seeds don’t fall out as you rinse the beans throughout the first few days.  Fill each jar so that there is enough water to cover the beans. Pour this water out, rinse and add more water to refill each jar and try to do this at least 3 times per day. Watch as the tails sprout and the nutrition becomes more energized as these little baby plants come to life!

Make sure your sprouts sense that they are READY to go



Read to grow!?









And rinse again….






And… rinse some more!






Day 1: Adzuki beans and Garbanzo’s








Day 1: Mung Beans







Day 2: Adzuki and Garbanzo beans — no sign of sprouting yet…

Day 2: Mung beans showing off!






Day 3: Adzuki sprouts starting to poke through..






Day 3: Check out the small tails!






Day 3: Mung beans shed and show their true colors..







Day 5: Adzuki beans look like they have fully (finally!) sprouted







Day 5: Finally softening up






Pretty lil’ Sprouted Mung Beans!






Adzuki Beans: Bold and Beautiful






Garbanzo’s have sweet lil’ tails!












Peach and crunchy endive goat cheese salad featuring the perfect salad toppers*

*Freshly-sprouted Adzuki and Garbanzo beans!

YummmmmmmMung bean salad!









Mung beans are super crunchy with their sweet texture that melts in your mouth. I added them to my zucchini, carrot and butter lettuce salad for an additional bite that’s packed with trace minerals and vitamins from the baby plants.

Sprouts stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days after sprouting — mix into a bean dip with olive oil, garlic or tahini, and season as desired.


YummmmmmmMung bean salad!

Could these ingredients be any fresher!?

Dr. Laurie cooks with ButterBeans Kids

Another successful cooking class at Brooklyn Friends. What a fun afternoon – we all had so much fun cooking up a storm, making a mess, taking the time to eat our meal, drawing our recipes, and then cleaning up together…

What’s on the menu? Fruit Kebabs with a Brown Rice and Sprout Salad

Techniques learned: dicing, softening, chopping, whisking, toasting, mixing, kebab-ing (aka piercing the fruit with your skewer to make the perfect kebab)

Could these ingredients be any fresher!?

Sometimes you need a little inspiration. Check out this bright green zucchini that the students each chopped up and added to a bowl. If you have a cheese grater, I would recommend using it to make the pieces of zucchini super soft and thin as they blend into the salad. Introduce your child to zucchini using a spiraler as ‘spaghetti’, in a stir-fry or omelette, as this green power veggie is low in Saturated Fat and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Thiamin, Niacin and Pantothenic Acid, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.

Strawberry tops were removed so that the kids could slice them into bite size pieces for their kebabs.  The washed grapes were a hit, along with the lemon for the dressing. Their mouths watered with sour bitterness as they tasted the lemon — it was precious.

We roasted the unsalted pumpkin and sesame seeds gently on  pan to extract their flavor and crunch up the salad. The sound the seeds made as they were poured into our salad bowl was beautiful ‘like a rain-stick’, as the students astutely noted.







Kids have fun arranging their own colorful creations! We used toothpicks today so that each student could make more than one kebab. If you have skewers at home, feel free to make use of them.

It’s fun to play with your food!

Rainbow colored fruits were creatively selected and cut up by the kids, who them arranged them perfectly onto their toothpick skewers. Feel free to use an ice-cream scooper to create the perfect melon balls.

Any leftover fruits in the fridge will complement this dish perfectly! (Fresh peaches would be divine…)

Brown rice and sprout salad — Mix it up!

Sprinkle in any fresh or leftover ingredients from the fridge like peppers, mushroom, watercress or lentils. The kids were shown how to mix gently and to avoid spilling over the edge, and to mix up the goodies at the bottom of the bowl.

Whisk up the perfect dressing using fresh lemon and olive oil. Dust with a pinch of sea salt and pepper and drizzle deliciously over your salad. Kids were shown how to taste their dressing using the back edge of their spoon to avoid double dipping!

Fun Facts:

  • Did you know that Sprouts are baby plants?

Check out my sprouting experiment to see how many grains and legumes ‘sprout’ by simply placing them in water for a few days. The water tricks the seeds into thinking that they are receiving a wonderful spring rain and that it must be the right time to start growing! Seeds often put out a soft green shoot packed with vitamins that are super easy to digest and absorb in the body, ideal for a growing body!

  • We cooked up brown rice today instead of white — but why?

Brown rice still has the hull, which contains the bran and germ, and also bran oil which contains many trace minerals. White rice has these important parts removed and thus lacks nutritional content including essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B and iron, as well as magnesium all of which are found in the brown grains. White rice is often “enriched” with some of these nutrients in processing, but most trace minerals are simply lost…